Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday claimed that the post-Diwali pollution level in the national Capital was the lowest in five years, the Hindustan Times reported. The Central Pollution Control Board’s website showed that the Air Quality Index in Delhi at 1 pm was 351, in the “very poor” category.

“The data shows that pollution on Diwali this year was the lowest in the last five years,” Kejriwal said at a press conference. “Pollution on Diwali has gone down, but our target is to completely stop it.”

The index reading touched the 463 mark at 10 am, which falls in the “severe” category, according to SAFAR, the Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research. However, the air was cleaner than in 2018. On November 8, 2018, following Diwali, the Air Quality Index had crossed the 600-mark. In 2017, the index was 367 and in 2016, 425. However, according to the pollution control board, the index at 10 am read 345 at 9 am, because it gives a 24-hour average.

Delhi Environment Minister Kailash Gehlot backed Kejriwal, PTI reported. “The air quality on the morning after Diwali this year is comparatively better than that of last year,” he added. “I am not saying this as an environment minister, but every person I am meeting is saying that the air quality is much better this time.” Gehlot thanked people for using less crackers to celebrate Diwali.

“There are no two opinions that less crackers were used compared to what was used in last Diwali,” Gehlot told reporters. “There are certain external factors like stubble burning but we are taking all steps to keep pollution in check.”

The minister also said that enforcement of norms is possible, people’s behaviour needs to change. “I hope next Diwali people will show even greater sensitivity towards environment while celebrating the festival,” he said.

The Delhi government will introduce the odd-even vehicle scheme from November 5 to November 14. The odd-even system helps reduce traffic on the roads by prohibiting cars and bikes from plying based on the last digit of their registration numbers – vehicles with odd digits ply on odd dates and the others are allowed on even dates.

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